How do you make an effective apology?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,305
    Family-law attorney John Spiegel discusses how to make an effective apology.

    Host: How do you make an effective apology?

    John Spiegel: Apologies are such an important part of life, its such a valuable skill and I think not well understood in our society. For example, in business, negotiations in losses and so on, lawyers will tell their clients, Dont apologize, dont acknowledge blame because it could end up costing you a lot of money. So, people dont and in a certain way, our whole society has gotten oriented that way. Yet, there are many situations, many hurts for which only an apology can solve the problem.

    I had found that there are three key steps that are necessary for a good apology. The first is that the person making the apology has the unambiguously acknowledge error. They have to be willing to say I did this in such and it was not the thing I should have done, I did not handle that situation well. The second part is that it has to be visible to the person who is hearing the apology that the person making the apology is genuinely troubled by their own behavior. There has to be that sense, that its really heart felt and sincere.

    The third part of a good apology is that you have to stick around and see what that person will say in response. For example, they may say once they hear you apologizing, they may let you have it and say, This is how I felt and I can't believe you did that and that is just shameful. Or they maybe upset and if you can stay relaxed and stay present up and not get defensive and not allow yourself to fall back into defending the thing that you said out not to defend, that will make a huge difference.